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- Jacob Ninan
Jesus commented once that the people of the world were more shrewd in managing earthly things than the people of God with spiritual things (Lk.16:8). It is true that we Christians who have everything going for us - God is with us, He is working for our good, He has given us instructions about what is good for us and what is not, we have other Christians who are around to help us - still mess up things by making the wrong choices. We do that because of several reasons, one being that we make short sighted choices, not thinking about how they will affect us in the long run.
Pilgrim, in the story "Pilgrim's Progress", went to the House of the Interpreter where he was shown several object lessons. One was about two boys called Passion and Patience. Passion wanted to enjoy everything 'now' and couldn't wait for things which were promised to him for later. He 'enjoyed himself' so furiously that all his things were spoiled in a short while and he was left in misery. Patience was willing to deny himself immediate pleasures, and finally he had the satisfaction of getting much better things.
Jesus said that those who were willing to lose their own lives for His sake and for the sake of the gospel would gain life (Mk.8:35). Isn't "our life" nothing but our own desires, ambitions, etc.? Isn't it clear that if we deny ourselves in order to do what the Lord wants, we shall gain in the end?
If we know this, why is it that we still choose to do our own thing? The answer is mostly that we can only 'see' the present and visualise the immediate benefits, and we don't realise that choosing these short term pleasures may cause us long term harm or that if we give up these pleasures our gain could be far greater in the future.
Isn't this one of the problems for young people who, naturally, don't have the experience to be able to see ahead? They can't understand why older people should tell them not to do certain things which they, the young people, can easily see are 'good'. They think that these older guys just don't know what they are talking about.
But when we know how to walk by faith and not by sight, we are comfortable looking at the things that are not seen and ignoring what are seen! (2Co.4:18). We receive by faith and choose to follow what God tells us through His word and what mature people pass on to us from what they have learned in their own lives. Then we are able to make choices based on a long-term strategy rather than grabbing transient pleasures.